“So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26
Kenny was a gentle giant.
When he would stop by the counseling building to say hello or talk about what was happening in the dorm, it always brightened my day.
But this day was different.
His usual smile was replaced by unmistakable pain.
This student whom I had grown so fond of quietly asked to use my office phone to call home.
His friend back home had been shot and killed.
Sadly, this was not the first person he cared about whose life was lost to gun violence.
Far from home, there was no family to comfort him.
So I sat with him in his pain.
In my early twenties, I remember feeling so inadequate.
Our backgrounds were different, just like the color of our skin.
I grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania with little diversity.
He was an inner city kid who had witnessed tragedies that were hard for me to understand.
So I offered the only thing that I could.
He poured out his feelings.
I cried with him.
I did not pretend to be something I was not.
I remember saying something to him like, “I don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes, but I do know what it’s like to lose someone I love. Let’s start there.”
He taught me things that the college degree I had just earned did not offer.
Kenny became my teacher.
He and so many of the other students I got to know and care for during my first job as a counselor gave me a lens to a world that I had not experienced before.
I have thought about Kenny so much this week in the midst of the horrific death of George Floyd.
Twenty odd years later, I wonder if he is safe or has children of his own now.
I know the prayers I pray over my own sons will look different than his.
In my heart, I am certain Kenny is grieving along with the rest of the country over this senseless tragedy.
I wish I could turn back the clock, and invite him into my office for a while.
And even though I still feel inadequate with what words to share, I would offer my presence.
God tells us in His word that when one part of the body is hurting, we all hurt.
Our body is in pain right now.
The differences we share make up the beautiful tapestry of those our heavenly Father calls His children.
“So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:5
We all belong to each other.
Friends, where is God calling you to offer your presence now?
Stop and listen.
Sit in the pain with our brothers and sisters.
In a world that feels broken, bring the light of His love and offer peace.
“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18